Opinion

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was Southampton’s unsung hero in victory over Arsenal

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was Southampton’s unsung hero in victory over Arsenal

Southampton supporters have been very buoyant in recent times after seeing their side pick up just their second Premier League victory of the season on Sunday.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men went into their clash with high-flying and in-form Arsenal off the back of suffering defeat in their first game under their new manager at Cardiff City last weekend, and facing the daunting prospect of entertaining Unai Emery’s Gunners, who were unbeaten in 22 games prior to their visit to the South Coast. Yet that unbeaten streak has come to an abrupt end as the Saints recorded a 3-2 success at St Mary’s, with a brace from Danny Ings alongside a Charlie Austin header inspiring the hosts to a much-needed three points, in turn moving them out of the division’s bottom three.

Thus, there have been many thrilled Southampton fans up and down the country in recent times, with every single Saints player earning much praise from supporters following their endeavours on Sunday, be it Ings for his well-taken brace, or indeed Austin for netting the winner.

Yet no-one epitomised everything superb about Southampton more than midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, valued at £10.8 million by Transfermarkt, whose masterclass in the middle of the park played a vital role in their success on Sunday.

The 23-year-old hasn’t always been a regular at Southampton following his move from Bayern Munich back in 2016, appearing just 28 times in all competitions last term, yet he has slowly but surely become a key member of the Saints squad this season in starting each of their last seven games.

And with some impressive performances in that time, the Denmark international is beginning to show why the Saints lured him from German giants Bayern little over two years ago, with Sunday arguably his best performance of the lot.

The midfielder had more touches of the ball (66) than any of his Southampton teammates to underline his repeated involvement and willingness to get on the ball and affect things (as per WhoScored), while his 82% pass success rate was the best, alongside Oriol Romeu, of any of the Saints midfield players.

Thus, Hojbjerg was crucial on the ball in giving the front men a platform from which to perform on Sunday, but he was just as vital off it, as one must be against Emery’s Arsenal, to thwart the visitors coming forward.

The Dane completed two of the three tackles he attempted over the course of the 90 minutes and made a team-high four interceptions to emphasise his great reading of the game – Arsenal found it tricky to play through the middle such was Hojbjerg’s anticipation.

And with one block, it’s clear that the 23-year-old gave everything to the cause in what was a much-improved Southampton display – one that must excite Saints supporters about the future under Hasenhuttl.

Ultimately, the new manager got absolutely everything out of his team on Sunday, with Hojbjerg epitomising everything superb about the Saints in victory over Arsenal.

Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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